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The Legality of Online Gambling Apps in India

Our world is going on the path of digitization. Everything is becoming easily accessible and it saves a lot of time. In education, people can access study material on the internet. A person can access it within seconds whereas it could take months to get the same set of information through conventional means. The internet has provided easy solutions to every problem whether it would be home appliances, e-commerce, connecting people, etc. We can agree that people universally want money easily.

The Internet has made access to money very easy. People who have no means of employment or who are insecure about their money-making skills often resort to easy money milking machines like online gambling apps. Online gambling apps are on the rise in India thanks to their promotion by cricketers, celebrities, and YouTubers. Apps like Winzo, Dream 11, MPL, etc. are on the rise in India.

The said popular people promote these apps by claiming that people would make their money easily. The Indian people are devoted to their celebrities and they put these people on a pedestal. They'll listen to what they say without having any sense of second thoughts. They don't understand that gambling apps could be dangerous too.

The legality of Online Gambling Apps in India

On paper, gambling apps are not illegal, especially games that are based on skills. Nagaland, Sikkim, and Kerela allow online gambling apps in their respective states however they are strictly regulated (only skill-based games are allowed) The apps must have licenses to operate in the said states. Telangana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have banned gambling apps in their territories expressively.

West Bengal has no laws which could prevent online gambling apps and although gambling apps are illegal in Goa, people still play them. Every state has its gambling laws whereas the Public Gambling Act, of 1867 is the only central act.

The IT Act, of 2000 governs these acts. It does not punish anyone regarding gambling apps. However, it does not allow certain foreign and illegal websites which could harm people through immoral means. The government will do anything to take these sites down.

A PIL had been filed in the Bombay High Court against Dream 11 App where the petitioner accuses the app of tax evasion. However, the court dismissed the petition by stating that the said app is a game of skill instead of chance. Similarly, the Karnataka High Court dismissed the FIR against the founders of Dream 11. The Karnataka Police contended that the App violates the provision of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act. The founders on the other hand believe that the prosecution has malafide intentions regarding their allegations. The court told the state government to refrain from using coercive actions against the founders.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports issued a charter which:
  • Bans minors from playing the games.
  • Skills will be prioritized.
  • Users can't change their selective squads, post-deadline.
  • The users must exercise skills and have to comply with the games and their rules.
  • It will be real-world player-centric games
  • Future based matches instead of historical matches.
  • Members will not offer gambling services.

In July 2017, Delhi Police raided an illegal casino in South Delhi. Four people were arrested. One person runs the gambling operation as well as handles all transactions and their details. A woman was said to be the mastermind of the operation. The police seized Rs 35,800, a portable workstation, a landline phone, and seven CPUs.

Critics of Gambling Apps

Many people believe that despite their legality, gambling apps can still act like vultures. Critics say that gambling apps like Dream 11 will never be found on Google Playstore because Google itself does not allow money-based contests. They further corroborate the criticism by stating that people will still lose their money even if they win a gambling match.

One critic says that ever since the rise of Jio, many young and impressionable people are in the initial stage of understanding the internet. Most of them don't understand the advantages and disadvantages of gambling apps because of their desperation to make money. The app companies would often use their desperation for profit. Another argument against gambling apps is that it creates gambling addiction and gambling addictions could often time be very dangerous since most people spend their money on these apps.

Some even say that games like Ludo now have elements of gambling in them. Critics say that celebrities don't tell the audiences the terms and conditions of the gambling apps. The lack of transparency by the celebrities towards the audiences often makes critics wonder if the celebrities are preying on the people.

Apple received class-action lawsuits regarding the app called Zynga. Detractors say that Apple allows an act that preys on the people's hard-earned money. It also violates the provisions under the US's states' gambling laws.

Another issue regarding the use of gambling apps is privacy. Ludo All-Star is one of the 267 companies that have been banned in India because the Indian Government claimed it is a Chinese App. Post-Galwan Dispute has made India ban Chinese Apps. One reason is apps like Tik Tok could sell personal data to China which could be used for threats, extortion, or to put it simply, world domination.

The US Pentagon has forbidden the use of Tik Tok in the office and has recommended their staff not let their children use Tik Tok. The issue of privacy was the major concern regarding gambling apps. The issue of privacy also made Google review every app to protect user privacy. Any app that does not meet the criteria is removed by Google.

Conclusion
In 2015, two YouTubers Syndicate and TmarTn have used their influence to promote CSGOLotto Inc. In this company, people can buy skins through gambling means in the popular first-person shooter game "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive". Since the company has questionable legality, the FTC sent them warning letters to twenty-one social media influencers including the two above-mentioned influencers. The two influencers promote their gambling site on their YouTube videos so many complaints were filed against them. If the biggest gambling scam happened to one of the biggest mainstream games then imagine what would happen if Dream 11 ever face such a scandal.

Gambling apps are between the line of legal and illegal. On one hand, the Indian laws are not strict enough to enforce regulations on them. While these apps could potentially prey on people's plight. It is time that the government makes policies regarding gambling apps. If there are massive losses of people's money then these apps and their founders must be held accountable for these actions.

Gambling Apps are like Multi-Layered-Marketing. It promises people with little income to make easy and quick money. However, in most cases, they turn out to be scams. The government must ensure that people's money is not looted for profits. The responsibility also lies with the people because they should do a background check on the gambling apps. They need to see whether the apps are safe, legal, and delivers the expectation of the people.

In the end, it's based on choice. People can play gambling apps but at the same time, they should know the terms and conditions as well as the dangers revolving around these apps. They should also seek legal remedies should they lose their money. That we could make our online space more mature.

Reference:
  • CSGO Lotto Owners Settle FTC's First-Ever Complaint Against Individual Social Media Influencers
  • Online gambling : still a confusion
  • Google Takes Stricter Stance On Privacy For Gambling Apps
  • Emergence and legal analysis of fantasy apps
  • Online Gambling Apps in India: How Does It Work? Is It Legal?
  • Why are gambling apps so promoted in India right now?
  • Biggest Scam In YouTube India.
  • Indian Youtubers Ruining Youth (Promoting Gambling Apps)
  • Shwetabh BLASTS Big Youtubers who Promote Gambling apps
  • Bombay High Court Rules In Favour Of Dream11, Calls It A Game Of Skill And Not Chance
  • Karnataka HC quashes FIR against Dream11 co-founders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth
  • CSGO Lotto Owners Settle FTC's First-Ever Complaint Against Individual Social Media Influencers
  • Apple slapped with class action suit over gambling apps
  • Ludo All Star developer YOOZOO Games responds to App Ban.
  • Complete list of 267 Chinese apps banned in India: PUBG Mobile, TikTok, AliExpress and more
  • How Social Media Platforms made Right to Privacy into a relic of the past
  • Chinese apps are collecting way too much data
  • Online Gambling laws in India

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